PS2J 293 News – Ctrl Alt Leak All Your Data

Free Games

  • Epic Games

    • The Stanley Parable

      • Started life as a Half-Life 2 mod in 2011, it became a standalone game in 2013
      • You play as the titular Stanley, and going through an office building in first person perspective, with everything that happens being narrated by the lovely British voice actor Kevan Brighting. You end up finding a bunch of diverging pathways, with options to disobey the narrator, that all get incorporated into the story with many different endings.
    • Watch Dogs

      • 2014
      • Third-person action-adventure game that follows hacker Aiden Pearce’s search for revenge after the killing of his niece, set in an open-world version of Chicago that has you going through different puzzles to hack a ton of different technology. There are also RPG mechanics with a reputation system and skill trees for hacking, crafting, combat, and driving
  • App Store

    • Alto’s Adventure

      • Join Alto and his friends as they embark on an endless snowboarding odyssey. Journey across the beautiful alpine hills of their native wilderness, through neighbouring villages, ancient woodlands, and long-abandoned ruins.
    • Alto’s Odyssey

      • Join Alto and his friends and set off on an endless sandboarding journey to discover its secrets. Soar above windswept dunes, traverse thrilling canyons, and explore long-hidden temples in a fantastical place far from home.
    • Kingdom Rush

      • Original, Frontiers, and Origins
      • Highly rated tower defence games
      • Get ready for an epic journey to defend your kingdom against hordes of orcs, trolls, evil wizards and other nasty fiends using a vast arsenal of towers and spells at your command!

COVID-19

  • According to the CDC, water temperature doesn’t matter at all when washing your hands
    • Hot or cold, the important factors are to use soap for at least 20 seconds and to use clean, running water. Standing water in a basin could be contaminated
    • They also mention turning off the faucet after wetting your hands to save water while you soap up, saying there is little data to prove significant numbers of germs are transferred between hands and the faucet
    • And also remember that while hand sanitizer also does the job, you’ll want to use soap and water if there is any visible dirt or grime to clean off. The best approach is to use both tools frequently
  • In some solid marketing spin, Apple is kicking off WWDC 2020 in June with an all new online format
    • Though it’s clearly a cancellation of the in-person sessions due to COVID-19, the way they’ve phrased it, and indeed the way it will exist this year, is an online format equally accessible to all developers no matter their location
    • They gave brief mention to the “current health situation”, but never actually mentioned COVID-19 or coronavirus
  • Many internet companies like TekSavvy and Shaw are making changes to remove data caps, offer flexible billing, and open up access points like Shaw Go WiFi to the general public
    • The FCC in the US is left scrambling to protect consumers though, after aggressively deregulating and removing their own power
      • They’ve convinced many ISP’s to waive late fees and not terminate services due to unpaid bill during this crisis, but glaringly omitted is any mention of removing data caps and overage fees
      • Ajit Pai arguing that ISP’s shouldn’t disconnect people in a time of emergency is making many wonder- isn’t this an admission that the internet is a utility, a basic service nowadays like power and water, and thus should be regulated as such?
  • The vast majority of business are either closing down completely or transitioning to online-only or limited delivery/takeout options to limit personal contact
    • Apple is even offering returns up to 14 days after they re-open their retail stores, as long as it’s not a phone bought on contract
    • Gamestop, though, has made the controversial decision to stay open in the US. They’re limiting the number of customers allowed in and cancelling midnight releases, but it’s still not a great situation
      • Many staff have reported on reddit that they haven’t even received disinfectant cleaners from corporate, instead being expected to provide their own and request reimbursement
      • Gamestop also still appears to be accepting trade-ins. Workers have apparently been told they can use gloves when accepting them, but they again have to buy their own
  • With movie theatres closing to keep up social distancing, Universal is releasing new movies as 48-hour rentals on the same day as their planned theatrical release. Current options include Trolls World Tour, The Invisible Man, The Hunt, and Emma, which cost $20 to rent (about two movie tickets)
    • I can see a lot of other studios doing the same, if they haven’t already, to try and keep up their revenue on new releases
  • Conan O’Brien is taking an interesting route in sorting this out, allowing his crew to work from home while he shoots his show from his house on his iPhone
  • The WWE is still going strong, performing their hearts out to completely empty stadiums and arenas in some entertaining and somewhat surreal Twitter videos I’ve seen
  • The European Union is calling on Netflix, YouTube, and other streaming services to temporarily reduce video quality to ease the strain on broadband networks while many work from home
    • Italy, one of the countries hit worst by the pandemic, saw a 75% rise in broadband and mobile network traffic over the weekend
  • Israel has passed an emergency law allowing them to track the smartphone data of people with suspected COVID-19 and others they come into contact with to make sure they follow quarantine rules, which is kind of terrifying when you think of the ramifications

Apple has announced a bunch of new hardware coming down the pipe, and DaringFireball has a solid breakdown of what we can expect

  • New iPad Pro models are coming with faster CPUs and GPUs
    • They also come with more storage, with the base model up to 128GB from 64GB, all for the same prices
    • They’ve also added a LiDAR sensor (basically a laser range-finder) which could mean much faster and more effective augmented reality apps
  • iPadOS 13.4 is coming this Tuesday and will include full system-wide pointer support for mice and trackpads
    • This looks pretty slick, being a round cursor when mousing around and then disappearing and highlighting buttons and controls when hovering over them
  • There will be a new Magic Keyboard iPad case coming in May with an integrated trackpad and backlit keys
    • It looks pretty powerful with no kickstand and adjustable angles, converting the iPad Pro into an actual , albeit topheavy, clamshell laptop
  • And the new MacBook Air has double the storage, greatly improved performance, and the prices have dropped significantly
    • With the price drops and storage increases, you can compare the previous generation’s slower 256GB model costing $1299USD to the brand new faster equivalent at $999
      • If you do want to spend $1299, you end up with a much beefier processor and double the storage
    • And as a bonus, they now have the new scissor-switch keyboard that solves many of the issues with Apple’s butterfly mechanism

China deploys a ton of ‘No touch’ Hologram elevator buttons

http://www.globalconstructionreview.com/news/demand-china-surges-no-touch-hologram-buttons/
  • A technology company in the city of Hefei, west of Shanghai, has attracted more than 100 orders for its holographic lift buttons as Chinese look for ways to avoid touching surfaces that may harbour the Covid-19 virus.
  • The device works by projecting an image of buttons in the air, and allowing users to “touch” them. The maker, Easpeed, says it can be fitted to all elevators, and has a response time of less than 30 milliseconds.
  • The system is relatively expensive, at about $2,000, prompting some building owners to opt for retrofitted voice controls, at a cost of around $500.
  • This has been done in hospitals in Yichang, Hubei Province, and Beijing’s Xiaotangshan Hospital.
  • Zhu Yongzhi, vice president Easpeed, told Global Times that the accuracy of voice control varied depending on noise levels, and the languages and dialects of the speaker.
  • He added that his company had received orders from Shanghai, Beijing, and Hangzhou in east China’s Zhejiang Province, and that the price may fall once Easpeed begins mass production.
  • Another approach has been taken by Huawei, which has developed an app that allows users to use a mobile phone to call elevators and select levels.
  • Meanwhile, those Chinese citizens who find themselves in unimproved lifts have taken their own measures, by using pens, toothpicks and keys to call their transport. Some may even have taken the stairs …

Watch Netflix with friends all from the comfort of you own homes!

https://www.gamespot.com/articles/netflix-party-lets-you-watch-movies-online-togethe/1100-6474858/
  • Netflix Party is a new way to watch Netflix with your friends online.
    • Netflix Party synchronizes video playback and adds group chat to your favorite Netflix shows.
  • How it works.
    • Install Netflix Party
    • Clicking the “Install Netflix Party” button on this page. Once you are redirected to the Chrome Web Store, click “Add to Chrome” to finish installing Netflix Party.
  • Open a Video in Netflix
    • Go to Netflix’s website. Choose any show you would like to watch and start playing the video.
  • Create your party
    • To create your party, click on the red “NP” icon located next to the address bar. Then click “Start Party” to get the party started, and share the party URL to invite friends.
  • Join a Netflix Party
    • To join a party click on the party URL, which will redirect to Netflix’s website. Then click on the “NP” button next to the address bar, and you should automatically join the party.
  • Has some customization options
    • User icon and nickname
    • Upload screenshots, emojis and GIFs
  • Netflix Party claims they have over 500 thousand users already
    • Is is not clear is they are affiliated with Netflix
    • Since they have a Patreon of $5 a month, I feel they are not
    • And with all participants needing their own access to Netflix
      • I doubt this will be taken down
      • But we never know

Tidbits

  • Microsoft’s been confirming the nuts and bolts of the Xbox Series X this last week, including a fancy solid-state drive, but they’ve made a bit of a misstep when it comes to expansion
    • They’re going to be selling the Xbox Series X Storage Expansion Card, a proprietary mcguffin developed with Seagate that you’ll need if you want to install more games than the internal storage allows. USB is allowed for backup, but not for gameplay
      • The cards will apparently offer some portability though, letting players bring a card loaded with games to a friend’s Xbox and play them there
    • Almost in response, Sony announced that the PS5 will have an expansion bay for an off-the-shelf solid-state drive, though they will be certifying specific drives to meet the new PCI Express 4.0 standard
  • After founding Microsoft in 1975, Bill Gates has left the its board entirely last week to dedicate more time to his philanthropic endeavours
    • It was a surprisingly quiet announcement, snuck in on a Friday under the headline “Microsoft announces change to its board of directors”
  • Apple has been fined a record $1.23B in France for price-fixing with their Apple Premium Reseller program
    • The French competition agency said that under the program, Apple published recommended prices and tightly restricted promotional materials distributors could use. One distributor said that if it ran a promotion Apple didn’t like, the company would retaliate by limiting product supply
    • The agency also found that Apple limited supplies to partners during moments of heavy demand around new product launches, to steer customers to its own stores
    • All in all some pretty nasty business practices that don’t sound very legal at all
  • Comcast has mistakenly published the names, phone numbers, and addresses of nearly 200,000 customers that pay monthly fees to remain unlisted
    • The information was made available on Ecolisting, a directory run by Comcast, and shortly thereafter picked up by third party directories
    • Comcast has shut that directory down, paid each customer $100 in credits, and offered free number changes, but the last time something like this happened in 2015 it resulted in a $33M settlement
    • This could be a very big deal for people that need to stay anonymous online for things like personal safety reasons, as even though they can change their phone numbers their names and addresses are out there now

New Overwatch Character #32, Echo

Backstory

  • Dr Mina Liao, Expert in robotics and artificial intelligence
    • Joined the Omnica Corporation and helped create the omnic race
    • During the Omnic Crisis, she was enlisted by Commander Morrison to join Overwatch
    • Mina created the Echo Project, to create an adaptive AI highly advanced robot to help with her vision of the future

Abilities

  • Primary attack
    • Tri-Shot – 15 shots before relead
    • Shoots 3 projectiles in a triangle pattern
  • Secondary Attack
    • Sticky Bombs – 5 second cooldown
    • Shoots a volley of bombs that stick to enemies and detonates after a short time
    • can be combined with Primary attack
      • Unlike Zenyatta’s charge attack
  • Primary Ability
    • Flight
    • Initial boost forward
    • Followed by a short time of free flight
    • She can also glide
      • Faster falling than Mercy’s similar ability, but more maneuverability
  • Alternate Ability
    • Focusing Beam
    • Deals significantly more damage to characters that are under 50% health
    • Also deals more damage to Barriers that are below 50%
      • Funfact – The first cracks on a barrier are when it falls to 50%
  • Ultimate
    • Duplicate
    • Echo will duplicate an enemy character for 15 seconds
    • Echo replicates the appearance of the hero and gains all their abilities
    • Damage done or healed, in this transformed state will accumulate more Ult charge than in regular gameplay
    • If you are defeated, you lose your transformation, and become Echo again
    • Quality of life enhancement added to confirm the character selected before transforming
      • It is also added to Ana’s Ultimate, to confirm the character you will be boosting
  • She is a very advanced character and will have a long time on the PTR

 

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PS2J 291 News – Boring School Stuff Folder

Free Games

  • Epic Games

    • GoNNER

      • 2016
      • A roguelike game often described as a shooter version of Spelunky- a procedurally generated 2D platformer that has you journeying in deep and dark places for a trinket to cheer up a giant landbound whale named Sally
    • Offworld Trading Company

      • 2016
      • A sci-fi RTS from the publishers of Sins of a Solar Empire that has you waging economic warfare on Mars, using anything from corporate takeovers to sabotage
  • Twitch

    • Bomber Crew

      • 2017
      • Strategic simulation game that has you picking the right crew to keep your Avro Lancaster bomber in tip top shape and complete your World War II era missions
    • Whispers of a Machine

      • 2019
      • A point and click sci-fi nordic noir that tells the story of a cybernetically augmented detective investigating a string of murders in a post-AI world
    • Mugsters

      • 2018
      • A physics-based sandbox puzzle game that has you outrunning, outmanoeuvring, and outsmarting the aliens that have taken over Earth and enslaved humanity
    • Furi

      • 2016
      • A twin-stick hack and slash shoot ’em up bullet hell consisting entirely of boss fights. The jailer is the key, kill him and you’ll be free.
    • Epistory – Typing Chronicles

      • 2016
      • An atmospheric action-adventure typing game following a girl riding a giant fox fighting insectile corruption in an origami world

With the COVID-19 coronavirus concerns in full swing, Google has cancelled their annual I/O developer conference and many are speculating that Apple may at the very least modify their own WWDC this spring

  • Other events like this year’s Game Developer’s Conference and Mobile World Congress events were previously postponed or cancelled due to concerns about the virus
  • With supply chains in China certainly being affected, it might just make sense to delay the product announcements as well and keep the developer portions of the presentations limited to online sessions
    • It’s gotten to the point where Apple Stores have been warned that replacement devices will be facing supply constraints for the next 2-4 weeks, so be warned if your phone needs a repair you might be caught with a loaner device in the meantime
  • Apple’s even sent care packages, called CareKits, to staff they have currently stranded overseas, that include things like coffee, tea, cookies, facemasks, and an iPad
  • If you’re interested in helping fight COVID-19, you can donate your unused computer resources by downloading the Folding@home client. That will add your computer to a pool that lets researchers farm out processing tasks to see how the virus attaches itself to human lungs, which they need to understand if they’re going to stop it
    • Similar efforts have contributed to research on diseases like cancer, ALS, Parkinson’s and Huntington’s
    • Check out the full details at foldingathome.org
  • There’s also a similar piece of software available called Foldit, but instead of just using your extra processing power it’s actually a puzzle game that has you changing a protein’s shape to block how the virus infects people. According to PCGamer, Foldit helped researchers decode the AIDS virus back in 2011
    • If you want to take a crack at it, with no medical degree required, you can go to fold.it and give it a go

What do US Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the FBI, Best Buy, Walmart, the RCMP, and a sovereign wealth fund in the United Arab Emirates have in common? Well according to Buzzfeed News they, along with thousands of other organizations, have been using a controversial facial recognition startup that’s facing legal threats and violating App Store regulations left and right

  • Clearview AI is apparently on a quest to create a global biometric identification system by scraping social media and the internet at large, and it’s for sale to anyone who wants it
    • They have paid contracts with organizations like ICE, US Attorney’s offices, and Macy’s, and have users at the FBI, Customs and Border Protection, Interpol, and the NBA
  • The New York based startup has claimed it’s tech is meant as a tool for North American law enforcement, but it’s been used by more than 2,200 government agencies and companies across 27 countries
    • So we have this product featuring a treasure trove of identifying information on a ton of people, accessible to anyone that can pay, oh and also they’ve been breached at least once so presumably a few people that haven’t paid as well
  • The hardest part here is that the US just doesn’t have any laws or regulatory framework for this kind of biometric tracking- there’s literally no accountability for their ability to gather up this information and sell it, leading to government agencies running literally thousands searches and most likely acting on the information received
    • We could have ICE agents walking into a supermarket, scanning people, and immediately deporting them without due process or investigation
    • And this is all based on the tech of a company that can’t even keep their client list confidential
    • It’s one thing to have a database of internally gathered mugshots, or even shared between agencies, but when you outsource it to a third party whose interests are purely monetary and scrapes the internet at large for information it gets really scary
  • All in all there’s a complete lack of transparency here- Clearview is providing free trials to anyone who wants them, even officers in police departments that have explicitly banned the app, and provided its software to private and public institutions all over the world
  • This stuff is so shady that they didn’t even want their iOS app distributed through Apple’s App Store- they abused the developer program, similar to Facebook’s Research app that paid users to spy on their information early last year, so that users could sideload the app without it being reviewed by Apple
    • In a response to Buzzfeed’s inquiry Apple investigated and suspended their developer account, effectively preventing the app from running

Overwatch Competitive Play Hero Rotation

  • To make competetive Overwatch more dynamic, Blizzard has implemented a Hero Rotation
  • First banned characters are
    • Orisa
    • Hanzo
    • Mei
    • Baptiste

Cool looking game: Nocturne

  • For free on Steam, try Nocturne: Prelude
  • The game caught my eye with a bright colour pallette
    • Cool high quality pixel graphics
    • and rhythm based combat
  • Here is the copy thy have on their Steam page:
    • Rich Narrative
      • The digital afterlife survived humanity’s extinction.
    • Nocturne: Prelude is the first chapter of a story-driven RPG set within a digital afterlife. Millennia have passed since humanity’s extinction; but somehow you’ve only just arrived.
    • Your conscience was uploaded to a world where a sentient AI has taken control, twisted creatures roam the land, and a vast corruption spreads.
    • Rhythm Combat
    • Master an entirely skill based rhythm combat with fierce battles and unexpected challenges. With multiple difficulty options, Nocturne: Prelude is a game suitable for beginners and veterans of the rhythm genre.
    • Find equipment to unlock powerful combat buffs or special abilities. Defeat enemies to unlock them in Arcade mode, where you can challenge them again for highscores.
    • Classic RPG
    • Make friends, battle enemies, and traverse a beautiful world as it falls apart around you. The perfect balance of heart-pumping musical combat, magnificent worldbuilding and deep story.
    • Nocturne: Prelude was inspired by decades of traditional RPG’s that immerse you in fantasy worlds.
    • FEATURES
    • Meet a cast of unique characters who’ll challenge what it means to be alive.
    • Explore a vast and beautiful pixel art world.
    • Master an entirely skill based rhythm combat system.
    • Fierce battles with unexpected twists.
    • Challenge your highscores in Arcade mode.
    • Multiple difficulty modes suitable for beginners and veterans of the rhythm genre.
    • Original soundtrack composed with a mix of digital and live performances.
    • Befriend a giant orange fish.
  • Nocturne: Prelude is the first chapter of Nocturne, released for free. The main story contains about 1-2 hours of gameplay.

Tidbits

  • Final Fantasy VII Remake’s demo of officially available now, ahead of its April 10th release
    • I specify ‘officially’ available, because there was already a sizeable leak at the end of last year, with many getting their hands on the full playable demo at the time
  • Apple has agreed to pay up to $500M to settle the class action lawsuit over throttling the performance of older phones
    • The whole issue came about when iOS 11 hit, when it had an undocumented feature that managed the battery life of older phones to prevent unexpected shutdowns- benchmarks took a hit, but the devices stayed reliable
    • The problem was that they didn’t give any feedback or options for this feature until iOS 13 came out late last year, so while they’re not admitting any wrongdoing they’re still willing to pay each affected user $25 if the settlement is approved
      • As MrMcLargeHuge said in the arstechnica comments section, “They were correct from a technical standpoint, but wrong from a PR standpoint.”
  • The director of MI5, Britain’s Security Service has called on tech companies to find a way to allow spy agencies “exceptional access” to encrypted messages, and that he finds it “increasingly mystifying” that intelligence agencies aren’t able to easily read secret messages of suspects they’re monitoring
    • While he refers to cyberspace as an unregulated “Wild West” that is largely inaccessible to authorities, it kind of seems like they’ve gotten lazy with how easy it’s been to spy on users up to this point. Now that we’re putting locks on our messages they want a copy of the keys

 

For more content, Patreon supports get access to upcoming ideas and more!

Thank you to Darren, we want to make things you’ll find interesting!

And thanks to all our ‘fanily’ that support us.
And if you want to support us too, its as easy as clicking this link!
We are a proud member of the Alberta Podcast Network powered by ATB
And talk to us in the comments!

Free Games

  • Microsoft

    • Batman: The Enemy Within

      • 2017
      • Episodic adventure game in classic Telltale Games fashion, and a sequel to 2016’s Batman: The Telltale Series, it features the usual branching narrative and choices carrying over from the previous title
    • Shantae: Half-Genie Hero

      • 2016
      • The fourth game in the Shantae series, and the first full HD title, it’s a cute platformer with metroidvania elements that has you transforming into different animals to access new areas
    • Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2

      • 2014
      • An action-adventure sequel to the 2010 Castlevania: Lords of Shadow, you play a weakened Dracula on a quest through medieval and modern worlds to defeat Satan
    • Sonic Generations

      • 2011
      • Produced for the 20th anniversary of Sonic the Hedgehog, and featuring both classic sidescrolling and full 3D levels, it follows Sonic and Tails as they team up with their past selves to stop an evil entity from erasing time itself
  • Sony

    • Shadow of the Colossus

      • 2018 remake of the 2005 PS2 game
      • Beautiful action-adventure game that has you exploring a vast expanse on horseback to defeat the 16 colossi to restore the life of a girl, it’s minimalist in that there are no towns to explore, characters to interact with, or enemies to defeat other than the colossi
    • Sonic Forces

      • 2017
      • Platformer published for Sonic’s 25th anniversary, it features both classic side-scrolling and modern 3D Sonic gameplay, as well as a mode featuring custom characters inspired by fanart over the years
      • This one caught some flack for being released after the success of Sonic Mania
  • Epic

    • InnerSpace

      • 2018
      • Adventure game inspired by Journey and Grow Home that has you soaring through the sky and diving into the ocean in search of the ancient gods of the Inverse, a realm of inside-out planets

Google’s strange stance on the ToTok messaging app malware is making a lot of people suspicious

  • ToTok first hit as a popular social messaging app receiving millions of downloads from the Play and App Stores combined, with the iOS app alone having more than 32,000 reviews
  • Then late last year both Google and Apple removed the app from their app stores after US intelligence officials found it was a tool for spying by the United Arab Emirates government
    • They told the New York times that the UAE was trying to track “every conversation, movement, relationship, appointment, sound, and image of those who install it on their phones.”
    • An independent analysis of the iOS and macOS apps confirmed that, if you gave it permission to access your contacts, it did in fact collect entire address books and send them back to head office
    • Not to mention the fact that all in-app communications would be readily accessible to the developers if they so choose
  • Then a week later, Google put it right back with no explanation
  • And then this week they removed it from the Play Store a second time, again with no explanation
  • Finally, over the last few days Google’s Play Protect app scanning service started showing the warning “This app tries to spy on your personal data, such as SMS messages, photos, audio recordings, or call history. Even if you have heard of this app or the app developer, this version of the app could harm your device.”
    • The message then gives you two options, either Uninstall or Keep App (Unsafe)
  • That back-and-forth, especially with them not telling users exactly what they know about the app, has people scratching their heads
    • Some are even speculating there may have been some insider on the app approval team that tried to sneak it back in

Slickwraps customers were treated some conflicting information about their privacy this week, but the bullet point here is that the company has been breached

  • Earlier this week the whitehat hacker and cybersecurity consultant known as Lynx posted a full breakdown of exactly how they hacked Slickwraps’ website and, by extension, their internal systems
    • Basically it looks like the case customization feature, that lets you upload a photo to make a custom decal, allowed users to upload any file to any location on the webserver
    • That allowed access to the full contents of the server, including employee resumes and 9GB of customer photos (which, of course, included nudes)
    • From there Lynx got into configuration files, leading to their entire database including customer addresses, emails, phone numbers, and transaction histories
      • As a bonus they also got access to Slickwraps’ admin accounts and credentials for their payment partners, admin accounts, social media, and help desk
    • Basically, at this point Lynx owned Slickwraps’ entire digital infrastructure
    • Now you might ask, why did they post this info publicly? Well apparently they tried to contact support subtly on Twitter, directly through the support portal, and then no subtly by adding a page to their website saying “Lynx was here” and tweeting it to their support account
      • The company’s response, apparently, was to block Lynx on Twitter and, according to Lync, try to erase the data breach from their logs and reset passwords, even reinstalling their whole eCommerce platform, without actually closing the hole in their security
    • Days afterward they continued to ignore Lynx, even after other unscrupulous activity could be seen going on as other hackers caught wind of the vulnerability
    • Eventually the company messaged Lynx asking if they were looking for a bounty. Lynx replied, saying they didn’t want anything but for Slickwraps to notify their users of the breach as they’re required to do as part of European data privacy laws, which they were already in breach of since it took them so long after first contact to do anything
      • Then things got a little dark, with Lynx threatening that if Slickwraps didn’t contact customers they would do it themselves and potentially leak the entire database of information
      • The response? “Why are you doing this?”, followed up by “Are you able to help?” and “We are just the social team, btw and done via a 3rd party”
      • So Lynx did what they perhaps should have done in the first place- they found the CEO’s email in the Slickwraps database and emailed him, telling him to check the messages
      • Shortly afterward, Lynx was once more blocked. So days after first contact they gave up and published their findings
  • Eventually Slickwraps did sent out a notification on February 21st, 6 days after the initial hack, saying “On February 22nd, we discovered information in some of our non-production databases was mistakenly made public via an exploit. During this time, the databases were accessed by an unauthorized party.” and claiming to have closed the databases in question
    • The timeline here is a little suspect, as well as the claim that it was non-production databases accessed rather than their entire infrastructure
    • It was also sent to a lot fewer users than were actually exposed- other whitehats sent out emails to the entire database details what happened, including each customer’s name and physical address as evidence, and there are many reports online of people receiving this email and not the official one
  • There’s also the fact that at this point, depending on how far Slickwraps has come in actually addressing the issue, I would avoid their website since who knows what malware or other surprises people have snuck into place
  • But there is good news here- no passwords or financial data were leaked, and if you checked out as Guest instead of creating an account you’re completely safe
  • People that have been affected will need to be on the lookout for more targeted phishing attacks though, as a lot of identifying information is out in the wild now
  • If you want to see if you’re affected you can punch your email address into haveibeenpwned.com to see a list of data breaches that include your information

Having fun with MTG Commander again

  • Thanks to my friend Cam for inviting me to his MTG night
  • Cam helped pick out some mean cards for my Mogis Commander deck
    • Here are some Highlights:
    • Mogis, God of Slaughter
      • For reference my commander, when on the field causes my opponent to sacrifice a creature or take 2 damage every upkeep
    • Dictate of the Twin Gods, 5 mana Enchantment
      • If a source would deal damage to a permanent or player, it deals double dame to that permanent or player instead.
    • Painful Quandry, 5 mana Enchantment
      • Whenever an opponent casts a spell, that player loses 5 life unless he or she discards a card
    • Ob Nixilis, Unshackled, 6 mana Legendary Creature, 4/4
      • Flying, Trample
      • Whenever an opponent searches his or her library, that player sacrifices a creature and loses 10 life.
      • Whenever another creature dies, put a +1/+1 on this creature
    • God-Pharoh’s Statue, 6 mana Legendary Artifact
      • Spells your opponents cast cost 2 more to cast
      • At the beginning of your end step, each opponent loses 1 life
    • Hour of Devastation, 5 mana Sorcery
      • All creatures lose indestructible until end of turn.
      • Hour of Devastation deals 5 damage to each creature and non-Bolas planeswalker
    • Fraying Omnipotence, 5 mana Sorcery
      • Each player loses half their life, then discards half the cards in their hand, then sacrifices half the creatures they control.
      • Round up.
    • Dingus Staff, 4 mana Artifact
      • Whenever a creature is put into any graveyard from play, Dingus Staff deals 2 damage to that creatures contoller

Overwatch Experimental 1-3-2

  • There is a new tab when selecting your game called Experimental.
    • It is reserved for radically different tests, that are not meant to roll into the game, which is why they aren’t seen exclusively on the Public Test Realm.
  • The first is a test to change the dynamic of team play to have one tank, three damage and two support.
    • To make one tank more viable, here are the interesting changes made to the Tank Heroes.
  • D.Va

    • Health
      • Still 600, but adjusted to have 200 more armor
    • Defense Matrix
      • Lasts twice as long, now 4 seconds
    • Fusion Cannons, primary fire
      • Now only reduce movement speed by 30% instead of 50%
  • Orisa

    • Protective Barrier
      • Cooldown reduced from 10 seconds to 8
      • Barrier health increased to 900
  • Reinhardt

    • Health
      • Still 500, adjusted to have 100 more armor
    • Rocket Hammer, primary fire
      • Damage increased from 75 to 90
    • Barrier Field
      • Regeneration increased from 200 to 250 per second
  • Roadhog

    • Take A Breather
      • In addition to regular effect, leaves a cloud when used.
      • The cloud heals all allies for 25 health per second and provides 25% damage reduction
    • Chain Hook
      • Reduced from 8 to 6 seconds
    • Scrap Gun, primary fire
      • Damage per pellet reduced from 6 to 5 (150 damage per shot down to 125 damage)
    • Whole Hog
      • Cost increased by 15%
  • Sigma

    • Experimental Barrier
      • Regeneration rate increased from 120 to 200 per second
      • Barrier health increased from 900 to 1200
  • Winston

    • Health
      • Armor health pool increased from 100 to 200 (Total health is now 600)
    • Barrier Projector
      • Cooldown reduced from 13 seconds to 10 seconds
  • Zarya

    • Health and Energy
      • Shields health pool increased from 200 to 300. (Total health is now 500)
      • Maximum energy gain per barrier decreased from 40 to 30
    • Particle Cannon, primary fire
      • Maximum primary fire damage per second reduced from 170 to 140
    • Particle Cannon, secondary fire
      • Maximum secondary fire damage reduced from 95 to 80
    • Particle Barrier (Self)
      • Cooldown decreased from 10 seconds to 8 seconds
    • Particle Barrier (Ally)
      • Now creates barriers on all allies within 8 meters of your target
      • Duration increased from 2 seconds to 3 seconds

Tidbits

  • Apple’s taking some heat this week for their Mac Pro option that changes its solid feet to a set of wheels
    • The $400 upgrade doesn’t offer any way to lock the wheels, so while it could be decent on the floor it would be a terrible idea to put it on a table or desk
  • In a pretty confusing turn of events, the popular mobile game Plague Inc has been pulled from the iOS App Store in China because authorities say it “includes content that is illegal in China”
    • The strangest part is that it’s been available for years, so the best guess is that it has something to do with the COVID-19 coronavirus, but that still doesn’t really map
  • The United States FTC has announced that it’s sending out refund cheques to people who fell victim to tech support scams
    • The agency will be sending out a total of $1.7M, averaging $30 each, to users tricked into paying for fake tech support from companies like Click4Support
  • Samsung users got a surprise last week, receiving Find My Phone notifications that just said “1”
    • Apparently the alert was an accident- basically someone pressed a button they didn’t mean to and set out the mass notification during an internal test
    • Some users also noticed an odd spike in the app’s battery usage, with no explanation
  • Director Rian Johnson shared some interesting info in a Vanity Fair interview this week- Apple lets you use iPhone in movies, but the bad guys cannot have iPhones on camera

 

For more content, Patreon supports get access to upcoming ideas and more!

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PS2J 287 News – Who Knows What We’ll Name It

Free games

  • Twitch

    • Desert Child

      • 2018
      • An indie racing RPG that throws you into the role of a hungry, young hoverbike racer who needs to get off Earth before it explodes- hunt bounties, throw races, get to Mars, and win the Grand Prix
    • American Fugitive

      • 2019
      • Top-down open world sandbox that has you framed for your father’s murder, you’ll need to do whatever it takes to unveil the real culprit while evading the police at every turn
    • Steredenn

      • 2015
      • Side-scrolling rogue-like shoot-em-up in space, with sharp pixel graphics and chaotic boss battles in a never-ending combat for survival
    • Narcos: Rise of the Cartels

      • 2019
      • Turn-based action strategy based on the Netflix TV series, it has you exploring the first season from two sides with two unique stories
      • Unfortunately it seems to take the XCOM formula and water it way down, so while it seems tactical you can only move one person on each turn
    • White Night

      • 2015
      • Survival horror puzzle game where you explore the past of an old mansion in the 1930’s and solve puzzles of light and shadows in an entirely black and white setting.
  • Epic

    • Carcassonne

      • 2017
      • A competitive tile placement game of creating landscapes, claiming areas, and gaining points, with online play and a ton of replayability
    • Ticket to Ride

      • 2008
      • Another classic European-style board game that has you racing other players to build up your rail routes and reach your destinations
    • Pandemic was initially supposed to be included as well, but has actually been completely pulled from the Epic Games store. A statement from Epic said only that they’re shifting it to be free at a later date

Russia’s law against Apple devices seems to be proceeding according to plan, with the July 2020 deadline looming ever-closer

  • Back in episode 283 we talked about the new legislation passed in Russia by Vladimir Putin that would ban the sale of devices that don’t have a specific list of Russian apps pre-installed
  • This soon became known online as Russia’s law against Apple, as Apple has historically never allowed carrier bloatware or other apps to be bundled onto their devices- you get the same iOS experience regardless of where you buy your device
  • Well the list of required apps has finally been released and among them are government-produced apps for paying taxes and fines, as well as some banking, navigation, and social medial platforms with links to official government bodies
    • All of these apps have the potential to collect and send data related to finances, location, communications, and more, all without direct user permission
  • All in, it seems like a terrible idea for the privacy of any citizen of the world, and especially when Russia is behind it. If we see tech companies allowing this to go through I’m sure China won’t be too far behind
    • While Apple could leave the $3B market in Russia, and I’m sure a healthy grey or black market would crop up in the meantime, the $13B China would be a tougher proposition. We’ll just have to hope that companies don’t put a price tag on our privacy

Blizzard’s new Warcraft 3 remaster is so unpopular that they’re now offering instant refunds, but that’s still not enough for many players

  • The remastered Warcraft 3: Reforged launched late last week, meant to be a remake of Warcraft 3: Reign of Chaos and The Frozen Throne expansion, introducing a revamped user interface and enhanced cutscenes, along with more dialogue and tweaks to the campaign to align it with the lore of WoW
  • Unfortunately the plans seem to have changed, with the UI almost identical to the old version, and though some voice lines have been tweaked there aren’t any massive changes. Even the cutscene updates are lackluster
  • Basically the only real update are the graphics- the visuals are sharper, more detailed, and more fluidly animated, but most of the improvements don’t make much difference unless you zoom too far in to be useful in an RTS setting
  • The biggest problem is that they didn’t introduce the game as a new version, but rather replaced the old version with a new client and game whether you own Reforged or not, just presenting a toggle in the settings to switch between the two
    • This wouldn’t be a big deal were it not for all the issues that come with the new client- connectivity problems, trouble getting into custom games, and a complete lack of competitive ranked game modes
    • Not to mention that the download now includes a ton of extra resources, totalling 27GB compared to the original sitting at just over 1GB, even if you don’t own Reforged
    • They even implemented a live public chat room that you get dumped in to at launch, similar to Overwatch, but with no option to report or mute users
      • Loading up custom maps just merges its chat in with the main open channel, so good luck coordinating with anyone
      • There’s also no native LAN support, so you’re stuck online even if you’re in the same room
    • Speaking of custom, custom campaigns are entirely gone
    • Oh, and if the game can’t get an online connection to Blizzard you can play single player, but it won’t save your progress even though the save files are all local anyway
  • The backlash has gotten to the point where, instead of the normal process of Blizzard looking in to what was wrong with your purchase and denying the refund if you’ve had the game for a while and been playing it, refunds are now being automatically and immediately approved
  • This doesn’t help users unable to get back to the old client through official means, but it at least offers players dissatisfied with Reforged a way to get their money back
    • For really dedicated players that want their old client back  there are a bunch of guides and videos details steps online, and they even support internet connectivity, but in the meantime they’ve actively removed features and made unwanted changes to an 18 year old game with no way to officially opt out

Amazon’s Ring home surveillance equipment is getting an update this week to address some, but not all, privacy concerns

  • The update creates a new control center in the app, adding options for two-factor authentication (which it now prompts for by default) and letting you see a list of all devices connected to your account
  • It also lets you opt out of receiving any requests from police for camera footage as a blanket setting, instead of having to refuse each request individually
    • This is a solid win for privacy with 897 police and sheriff departments listed as Ring partners with the ability to request those files
  • Unfortunately this still doesn’t fix everything, as footage uploaded to the Neighbors app has geographic info that lets you pinpoint a camera to the square inch, and they haven’t addressed the EFF report we talked about two weeks ago wherein they share a ton of information with marketing and analytics companies

Nvidia’s GeForce Now cloud gaming service has left beta this week, and seems to actually fulfill many of the promises Google’s Stadia didn’t

  • All you have to do is download the app on a supported device, hook up your preferred controls, and connect to the servers. Then you can connect to a PC on the cloud and play one of hundreds of supported games from Steam, Epic Games, Battle.net, uPlay, Bethesda, and Origin (including many free to play titles)
    • The best part? They actually have a free tier right at launch!
  • Reporters at arsTechnica saw solid performance with minimal latency, to the point where they could play Sonic Mania without missing a jump or dash.
  • Whats more, because they basically just give you a virtual gaming PC you can go into a game’s full settings and tweak whatever settings you want to optimize the look and performance to wherever you want them
  • It’s never going to beat owning a gaming PC, but the ability to play these high-end PC games on a low-end Mac laptop is kind of bananas
    • It also supports Windows, mobile, and some smart TV’s, with eventual support for Chromebook coming later this year
  • Right now they’re offering two tiers:
    • Free, which gives you standard access and maximum one hour sessions (though you can immediately reconnect, you just might hit a queue depending on activity)
    • Founders, which is $5/month ($6.50 CAD) for priority access, extended sessions, ray-tracing gorgeousness, and a free three-month intro period
    • General streaming performance and game selection are the same between the two tiers, but the priority access will skip you to the head of the queue if the servers fill up
  • One big note on the game selection though is you don’t just load your existing game libraries to the service and to go town- you need to connect your other game store account, manually search for the game you want to play in GeoForce Now’s library tab, and add it to your account. Then you can launch those supported games through the GeForce Now app
    • There are also some loopholes where you can launch their Steam app and try starting games they don’t officially support, but for many games will hit errors when trying to run
    • There are even a bunch of supported games available through both Steam and Epic that can’t run from your Epic license, only Steam
  • All in all this is a pretty exciting time in gaming, with unparalleled access to this sort of thing as long as you have the internet connection to support it
    • Nvidia says that playing games will use about 15GB/hour, so be wary of your data caps!

Square Enix is releasing a brand new bundle-game this March called Kingdom Hearts All-in-One Package to bring together every game in the series up to KH3

  • The release history of this series is bonkers though. The All-in-One Package is pretty much just KH3 bundled with Kingdom Hearts: The Story So far
    • Which was Kingdom Hearts HD 1.5 + 2.5 Remix
    • Which is made up of Final Mix, Re: Chain of Memories, 358/2 Days, 2 FInal Mix, Birth By Sleep Final Mix, and Re:code
  • It also includes 2.8 Final Chapter Prologue, which itself is
    • Dream Drop Distance HD
    • 0.2 Birth by Sleep – a fragmentary passage
    • X Back Cover
  • But even with all that it’s still not a complete version, with the DLC for the third game, Re:Mind, still being sold separately

Here is a response to our call out for peoples Top 10 Games
I am going to try for the rest of the year to get everyone’s list!

Adam Blank (Remember the Game and Wrestling with Wrestling podcasts)
  • Super Mario World
  • Link to the Past
  • Mario Kart 8
  • Shovel Knight
  • Tetris
  • Donkey Kong County
  • Earthbound
  • Final Fantasy IV
  • Last of Us
  • Super Punch Out

Fake Magic card

  • Posted by Owner of Stony Plain Games & Collectibles, Lance
  • Lesson of the day!
    • You got to get up pretty early to fool this gaming shop owner!
  • Guy called me last night, want’s to know if I’ll trade in some expensive Magic the Gathering cards?
    • I ask him to come see me about it.
  • So today, said dude and his friend came in, looking to trade two MtG revised edition duel lands for shop credit?
    • (red flag-cash is king)
  • Right the way I could tell the cards looked ‘wrong’ in some way? I thought “these are proxies!” in my head.
    • (‘homemade’ copy of original version of an actual Magic card, used for gaming when one can’t afford the real thing. The guys that do proxies are getting VERY GOOD at it!)
  • They were pretty well done as the ‘rosette’ effect on the cards print when looked at under a x20 magnifier wasn’t far off an original, though of course there were differences enough even then to indicate it was a proxie.
    • (red flag 2)
      • A rosette effect is when in print, an image magnified looks like coloured dots in a flower pattern, and when observed nomally, look like a normal image. Its so the print colours of Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Black, are printed in grids at different screen angles.
  • The print was too dark and that was the first thing to alert me as I first checked them out but one has to be sure!
    • (red flag 3)
  • Some incredible proxy cards come in from China that are quite hard to tell the difference unless, you know what you’re looking for! If you have old MtG cards you need verifying, bring them into me!
    • Nothing worse having a fraud version of an expensive card. In this instance the real version of this card was $375! Each! Did the dude know they were fake? IMO I’d say so.
    • He listed off the good stores in the city to buy singles, with their owners names, as well as the formats he played of the game, some of which are very expensive to play! (unless you use proxies lol!) So he had some pretty good knowledge of the game and community around Edmonton and surrounding area. When I eventually said these are proxies pal, he was ready with a slack apology but really didn’t seem surprised at all?
  • Which if you just lost $750 bucks worth of cards, you’d be a little more pissed than anything else. Wouldn’t you? Just be aware that there is an industry for printing proxy cards that are very close to the real thing except,….they are not! Fraud is fraud so don’t get ripped off if you happen to be in the market for some high end MtG cards!

     

Surveillance of UK citizens by private companies embedded on UK council websites

  • Article by Brave
  • A new report from Brave reveals that people seeking help for addiction, disability, and poverty on council websites are profiled by private companies in the UK
    • What is a council?
    • Councils provide a wide variety of services to their municipalities and enforce various federal, state and local laws for their communities. These services include public health, traffic, parking and animal management
  • Brave has uncovered widespread surveillance of UK citizens by private companies embedded on UK council websites.
    • None of the data collecting companies recorded in this study had received consent from the website visitor to lawfully process data.
  • These are the Quick Facts, that Brave provides:
    • Nearly all councils in the UK permit at least one company to learn about the behaviour of people visiting their websites.
    • People seeking information about disability, poverty, drugs and alcoholism services are profiled by data brokers on some council websites.
    • 198 council websites in the UK use the “real-time bidding” (RTB) form of advertising. Real-time bidding is the biggest data breach ever recorded in the UK. Though illegality is not in dispute, the UK Information Commissioner (ICO) has failed to act.
    • Google owns all five of the top embedded elements loaded by UK council websites, giving it the power to know what virtually anyone in the UK views on council sites.
    • Over of a quarter of the UK population is served by councils that embed Twitter, Facebook, and others on their websites, leaking data about what sensitive issues people read about to these companies.
    • 6.9 million people are served by councils that allow data broker LiveRamp to track people on their sites. Until recently, LiveRamp was part of the Acxiom Group, which sold data to Cambridge Analytica.
    • None of the data collecting companies recorded in this study had received consent from the website visitor to lawfully process data.
    • This report should spur Elizabeth Denham, the UK Information Commissioner, to finally enforce the GDPR. It is 17 months since formal evidence from Brave and complaints about breaches of data protection laws were filed before the ICO.
  • About Brave:

    • Brave is a new, private web browser. It has unmatched speed and battery life. And it also blocks data-grabbing ads and trackers.
    • 10 million people use Brave to make the web quicker and safer. You can download it for your phone or computer and browse the web with confidence.
    • Brave’s CEO is Brendan Eich, inventor of JavaScript, and co-founder of Mozilla/Firefox.

Google Maps Fooled by Man Who Used 99 Smartphones to Create a Fake Traffic Jam: Video

  • Article on Gadgets 360
  • Simon Weckert, a Berlin-based artist, used 99 smartphones and a hand cart to create ‘fake’ traffic jams in the German capital.
  • The slow pace of the hand cart and the fact that 99 phones were used caused Google Maps to believe that there were a lot of vehicles using a street that was actually empty.
    • Google uses this method to crowdsource traffic data the world over; smartphones in cars provide information to Google, including the speed at which they are moving, and how many smartphones are on that particular street.
  • If the pace is low and number is high, Google would show that segment of the street as red or maroon, suggesting that there is a traffic jam.
    • The video, that will be in the show notes on our website,  shows the streets on Google Maps gradually turning from green to maroon, suggesting that there was a traffic pileup on those streets.
    • Google’s navigation suggestions would then recommend that users avoid those streets, even though they were actually clear to drive on, apart from having to watch out for Weckert and his handcart.
  • Weckert hasn’t shared any further details, so it’s possible that this could have been faked entirely.
    • If it is authentic, Google should ideally be looking at ways to prevent such an exploit from being used, since this could have very real and physical implications on traffic movement.
    • In any case, don’t stop trusting Google Maps entirely; it’s not often that you have artists with 99 smartphones on a hand cart wandering around.

Tidbits

  • In an interesting prank / hack of Google Maps and their traffic data, Simon Weckert carted a wagon filled with 99 phones around simulating a traffic jam in the navigation app
    • One neat thing to note is the filtering Google uses for the data- if the phones all stopped moving entirely the traffic jam wouldn’t appear, and once a car using Google Maps drove past Google would see there was no jam and set it back to normal
  • Software engineer and blogger Robert Heaton took a trip down the rabbit hole recently and discovered that Wacom tablet drivers send a ton of identifying data when you use them, including details about every application you use and when you use them
    • Apparently the data is gathered for development purposes, but if you’re concerned about privacy and want to disable that you’ll need to open up the Wacom Desktop Center and disable the Wacom Experience Program
  • Allegedly leaked footage of Samsung’s upcoming Galaxy Z Flip hit Twitter this week, showing the clamshell device in action for the first time
    • Size-wise it reminds me of the Gameboy Advance SP, though flatter and wider, and fits better with what we’re expecting a folding screen on a smart phone to do- close and protect the screen
    • It also is rumoured to use special ultra-thin glass instead of the plastic used by the Galaxy Fold, which could prevent some of the display issues the Fold saw
  • Nintendo has announced that there won’t be any new Switch systems coming this year, quashing some rumours of the hoped for Switch Pro with increased power and improved performance
    • This is just going to widen the power gap already existing between Nintendo, Sony, and Microsoft, and perhaps prevent ports of newer titles to the Switch, with the PS5 and Xbox Series X due out later this year

We want to know

What video game soundtrack would you like to soundtrack your life?

 

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PS2J 279 News – Edited as Desired

Free games

  • Epic Games

    • Nuclear Throne

      • 2015
      • Top-down roguelike shooter that has you going through procedurally generated levels either solo or in co-op, working your way ever closer to the Nuclear Throne
    • RUINER

      • 2017
      • Top-down cyberpunk shooter where you play a silent, masked protagonist attempting to rescue your kidnapped brother from the failing conglomerate that controls the entire metropolis
  • Twitch

    • Double Cross

      • 2019
      • A Mega Man style action platformer that has you controling Zahra Sinclair, an agent of RIFT who can jump, walljump, and use her proton slinger to grab objects or swing herself around
    • Darksiders II Deathinitive Edition

      • 2015 remaster of the 2012 title
      • Action hack and slash RPG that has you exploring open-world regions, solving interactive puzzles, and kicking butt in a kind of God Of War / Ocarina Of Time hybrid
    • Planet Alpha

      • 2018
      • A side-scrolling adventure platformer where you’re pursued by relentless enemies and must harness the power of night and day as you struggle to survive
    • Sword Legacy: Omen

      • 2018
      • Turn-based tactical RPG in a re-imagined King Arthur mythos where you play a vengeful knight in search of the long-lost Excalibur
    • Turmoil

      • 2016
      • Simulation game inspired by the 19th century oil rush in North America, where you start from scratch to become a successful oil entrepreneur
  • Xbox One

    • Sherlock Holmes: The Devil’s Daughter

      • 2016
      • Adventure mystery game in the same series as Crimes & Punishments, that has you exploring crime scenes and examining clues to link deductions and attempt to find the culprit
    • The Final Station

      • 2016
      • A side-scrolling shooter with a train simulator and exploration elements, where you have to balance taking care of the train and its passengers with exploring the apocalyptic world at each train station in order to keep moving
    • Star Wars Jedi Starfighter

      • 2002
      • A single-player or co-op spaceflight combat game set just prior to Attack of the Clones and during the Battle of Geonosis
    • Joy Ride Turbo

      • 2012
      • Combat kart racing game similar to the Mario Kart series
  • PS4

    • Nioh

      • 2017
      • Action RPG developed by Team Ninja where you play an Irish sailor pursuing a sorceror into the final battles of the Sengoku period in Japan
    • Outlast II

      • 2017
      • First person survival horror game that has you trying to find your wife while beset by a village of deranged end-times cultists with no way to fight back

AirPods Pro review

  • Very comfortable, though with the in-ear design it’s slightly harder to get them seated right (but I had pretty much perfect ears for the old style, so others may see it as an improvement), and the noise cancelling is solid
  • Transparency mode is ridiculously good, and it automatically switches to that when you’re just using one so you don’t have one blocked up ear
  • Announce messages seemed like a gimmick until I was busy on my computer and Siri read my incoming texts unobtrusively
  • The case looks bigger, but the just turned it on its side and stretched it a little, so it totally still fits in that 5th pocked on jeans
  • Also enjoying improvements from Gen 2, since I’m coming from G1- Hey Siri and wireless charging are handy to have
  • If you’re in the market for some new ANC headphones these are solid, but if you’ve got a good pair or are already using AirPods 2 then they’re a little harder to justify

Blizzard president J Allen Brack took a moment before the Blizzcon opening ceremonies to apologize for their punishment of professional Hearthstone player Blitzchung’s public support of Hong Kong’s protests

  • In the toothless statement he went on to say though that “Blizzard had the opportunity to bring the world together in a tough Hearthstone esports moment”
  • A few problems here:
    • It wasn’t a “tough Hearthstone esports moment”
    • He passed up another opportunity to “bring the world together” by saying anything at all in support of Hong Kong
    • He said nothing about the groveling they did to China on social media after the fact
    • And they still punished not only Blitzchung but also the commentators that were interviewing him

Overwatch 2 was announced, as expected, and we’ve got all the details

  • So it looks like this is kind of a pseudo-sequel; they’re releasing an updated game UI with revamped/remastered graphics and gameplay, along with multiple new heroes, maps, and a game mode, all for free for existing Overwatch players.
    • The new Push game mode, coming to quick play and competitive, has the two teams competing over a neutral payload that gets pushed in either direction based on who controls it
    • There will be four new maps: Toronto, Gothenburg, Monte Carlo, and Rio De Janerio
    • We also got a sneak peak at a couple of the upcoming heroes- Sojourn, the first Canadian OW hero that uses a cool gun that looks like a covenant sniper rifle, and Echo, an omnic that’s been teased in the base game for a while now
    • All skins, cosmetics, and other progress will carry over seamlessly
  • Where Overwatch 2 itself comes in to play is a new look for all heroes, a new co-op story mode and hero missions, and new hero talents for the PVE modes
    • The new modes seem to be permanent co-op modes like Halloween Terror or the Archives missions
    • Hero talents will have you levelling up and customizing hero abilities and ultimates to suit your playstyle
  • One nice thing with the new stuff coming is they can grow the canon inside of the game itself- right now we get lore dumps online but it has no real impact in-game
    • Overwatch re-forming and characters meeting or reuniting will have actual impact, instead of the current PVP grab-bag of characters having amusing interactions inside the dropship
  • If you want all of that stuff, you’ll have to buy the new… expansion, I guess? Plug-in? when it comes out at some point in the future for some currently undisclosed price
  • All in all it looks like they’re doing a fair amount to breath new life into the 3.5 year old shooter, though you’ll end up buying it again to see everything they have to offer

Tidbits

  • Real-time multiplayer is coming to Mario Kart Tour, but for now it will be limited to a beta offering only for Gold Pass subscribers
    • There aren’t any details on if it will require a subscription once it’s fully released, but if it does I can see it being a pretty sparse game with the subscription price costing more than their main console offering, Nintendo Switch Online
  • Sony’s PS4 is officially the second best selling console of all time, with about 2/3rds of the sales of the PS2
    • It’s doubtful that it’ll ever be number 1 though, as even though Sony says they’ll support it until at least 2021 the PS5 is expected to hit in 2020’s holiday season
  • DeepMind’s AlphaStar AI has officially hit Grandmaster status in Starcraft II, beating 99.8% of ranked human players with all three races, and I for one welcome our new robot overlords
  • Rudy Giuliani, one month after being named Trump’s cybersecurity advisor, apparently had to go to an Apple Store to wipe and restore his iPhone after getting it locked down from 10 unsuccessful passcode attempts
    • Many experts criticized the move, saying that there’s too much risk of employees gaining access to sensitive government information on the phone or in his iCloud backups
  • I don’t know how I missed this, but ghostwriter is getting rebooted on Apple TV+!
    • 90’s kids might remember the series running from 92 to 95 on PBS

Alan recommends QCode podcasts (Carrier, Edge of Sleep)

Literally Misleading

Last Week:

This Week:

 

For more content, Patreon supports get access to upcoming ideas and more!

A huge thanks to Dalton, for supporting us for so long.

And thanks to all our ‘fanily’ that support us.
And if you want to support us too, its as easy as clicking this link!
We are a proud member of the Alberta Podcast Network powered by ATB
And talk to us in the comments!

Free games

  • Epic Games

    • Layers of Fear Masterpiece Edition

      • 2016
      • A psychological horror game where you control a disturbed painter trying to complete his magnum opus as he navigates through a victorian mansion, with disturbing secrets about the painter being discovered
    • Qube 2

      • 2018
      • Sequel to the original Quick Understanding of Block Extrusion, and a physics-based puzzle game, interacting with specific blocks in the world to solve puzzles and make it to the end of each level

Ajit Pai, chairman of the US Federal Communications Commission and owner of one of the most punchable faces in the world, seems to be making a case for the very same net neutrality regulations that he himself repealed

  • In an attempt to preempt state laws on net neutrality, Pai stated that each state having their own regulations could discourage companies or entrepreneurs from dealing with multiple layers of permissions and regulations as opposed to a uniform, well-established set of consistent regulations
  • What he didn’t mention is that the US had a uniform, well-established set of regulations before he eliminated those rules from the Obama admin and deregulated the broadband industry
  • On the plus side the US Court of Appeals ruled that Pai and the FCC lost the power to stop state laws when they deregulated it in the first place
  • So at this point things are at a stalemate- Pai seems to want to give more power to his corporate overlords, but in doing so he gave the power to the individual states that are actually interested in keeping the internet an open, neutral resource

Gamers excited for Google’s Stadia cloud gaming service launch this November 19th might be left out in the cold, even if they’ve pre-ordered

  • Initially Google said that the only way to play on day one would be to shell out $130 USD for a Founder’s Edition console, and while that’s kind of true it turns out that isn’t the whole story
  • Now that it’s sold out they’re now selling a new Premiere Edition, and it looks like neither package now guarantees the ability to play first thing on release day
  • Google now says that Founder’s Editions will only start arriving on the 19th, so if you were one of the first to pre-order yours may arrive but otherwise they’re all shipping first come, first served
    • Both the Founder’s and Premiere Editions are officially expected to be delivered within the first two weeks of launch, so unless you were quick on the draw it might be a lot closer to the end of the month before you’re up and running

The new Google Pixel 4 phone is taking heat this week for their facial authentication system unlocking even if the user’s eyes are closed or pointed elsewhere

  • Early leaks showed a “require eyes to be open” setting for face unlock, similar to Apple’s “Attention Aware” feature, but the released version can be unlocked by anyone that can hold the phone up to your sleeping face
  • In a statement to the BBC, Google said it would “continue to improve Face Unlock over time”, though the fix could be months away

We finally have conclusive evidence that the new Dark Mode on iPhones with OLED displays saves a decent amount of battery life

  • Tests run by YouTube channel PhoneBuff, using robotic arms to interact with two iPhone XS Maxes, had the device using light mode dying when the dark mode iPhone had 30% battery still remaining
  • This only applies to OLED phones, meaning the X, XS, and 11 Pro phones, and can depend on your brightness settings, but it’s still a measurable benefit
    • OLED phones actually completely turn off any pixels that are showing solid black, while LCD displays are uniformly lit and still send power to every pixel regardless of what’s being shown
  • This also works as a proof-of-concept for saving battery on OLED Android phones, though that would need another batch of testing to confirm

HARP 3D printer is one step closer to getting the Replicator

  • Researchers at Northwestern University have overcome issues around overheating
    • They have developed HARP, a 3D printer claimed to produce an object the size of an adult human in two hours.
  • Northwestern’s Chad Mirkin, who led the product’s development saidA limitation of resin-based 3D printers is that they generate a lot of heat when running at fast speeds, leading to dangerously hot surface temperatures and potential cracks and deformations in printed parts.
    • 3D printing is conceptually powerful but has been limited practically
    • If we could print fast without limitations on materials and size, we could revolutionise manufacturing. HARP is poised to do that.”
  • Mirkin predicts HARP, will be available commercially in the next 18 months
  • How does it print this fast?
    • HARP prints vertically and uses projected ultraviolet light to cure the liquid resins into hardened plastic
    • This process can print pieces that are hard, elastic or ceramic
    • These continually printed parts are said to be mechanically robust and can be used in a wide range of products that include cars and aircraft.
  • This is similar to the Form Labs 3D printer I looked into when I thought I was going to buy a 3D printer
    • The benefit versus other types of printing
      • You can make translucent objects
      • And you can achieve higher detail
  • However, a limitation of resin-based 3D printers is that they generate a lot of heat when running at fast speeds
    • which leads to dangerously hot surface temperatures and potential cracks and deformations in printed parts
    • “When these printers run at high speeds, a great deal of heat is generated from the polymerisation of the resin,” Walker said in a statement. “They have no way to dissipate it.”
  • HARP bypasses this problem with a non-stick liquid that behaves like liquid Teflon
    • It projects light through a window to solidify resin on top of a vertically moving plate
    • The liquid Teflon flows over the window to remove heat and then circulates it through a cooling unit.
  • “The interface is also non-stick, which keeps the resin from adhering to the printer itself,” Hedrick added.
    • “This increases the printer’s speed by a hundredfold because the parts do not have to be repeatedly cleaved from the bottom of the print-vat.”
  • Although 3D printing is transitioning from prototyping to manufacturing,
    • Current 3D printers’ size and speed have limited them to small-batch production
    • HARP is claimed to be the first printer that can handle large batches and large parts in addition to small parts.
  • “When you can print fast and large, it can really change the way we think about manufacturing,” Mirkin said.
    • “With HARP, you can build anything you want without moulds and without a warehouse full of parts. You can print anything you can imagine on-demand.”
    • While other print technologies have slowed down or reduced their resolution in order to print large parts, HARP does not make such concessions.
  • “Obviously there are many types of 3D printers out there – you see printers making buildings, bridges and car bodies, and conversely you see printers that can make small parts at very high resolutions,” Walker said.
    • “We’re excited because this is the largest and highest throughput printer in its class.”
  • HARP uses high-resolution light-patterning to achieve ready-to-use parts without extensive post-processing
    • The result, the university claims, is a commercially viable route to the manufacturing of consumer goods.

Fallout 76 Subscription?

  • Fallout 1st is a $100-a-year subscription-based service
    • Gives its members access to several benefits not available to others
      • Play on a private world with only your friends
      • unlimited storage space in the Scrapbox
      • a Survival Tent for fast traveling
      • Monthly Atoms, an exclusive outfit
      • Extra icons and emotes
      • And special sales not available to other players will also appear periodically.
  • This gives players what they have been asking for
    • But at a cost $12.99 a month, its $3 more than XBox Game Pass
      • And Gamepass has Fallout New Vegas, which seems to be most fans favorite
      • And it has Outerwords, a new open world game with far more options than Fallout 76
    • This is a bad sign from Bethesda
      • It shows that they are hearing what players want
      • But are out of touch, or too greedy to implement them fairly

Tidbits

  • Good news for anyone jumping on the 5G bandwagon- Verizon has managed to deploy coverage to certain seating areas in three different NBA arenas!
    • The coverage is far from complete, and there’s no word on the speeds being offered, but if you’re one of the people that Verizon has convinced to pay extra money then you might potentially see a benefit in parts of those arenas
  • Facebook may be forced to pay up to $35B in a class action lawsuit for users in Illinois, arguing that Facebook’s collection of users’ faces for tagging purposes violates the Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act
    • The law requires that businesses gather consent from state residents before their biometric data is collected or used, and involves fines up to $5,000 for each of the 7M violations
  • In some awkward timing with tensions between China and Hong Kong, and the HKMap.Live app mess, Tim Cook has been named chairman of a Chinese university’s school of economics and management
  • Lastly some good news for gamers- Activision and Infinity Ward have announced that there will be no loot box system in the upcoming Modern Warfare game, and all weapons and functional attachments will be unlocked strictly through gameplay
    • There will be a battle pass system for aesthetics, with both free and premium streams, but that will let players see the content they’re earning or buying beforehand

Alan recommends silicone stretch lids

 

Literally Misleading

Last Week:

Movie – Artist tries his best against the wishes of his grandfather and clingy aunts (Kubo and the Two Strings)

This Week:

Thanks to reddit user – MissBarker93
Movie – Man Survives thanks to his own feces

 

For more content, Patreon supports get access to upcoming ideas and more!

A huge thanks to Dalton, for supporting us for so long.

And thanks to all our ‘fanily’ that support us.
And if you want to support us too, its as easy as clicking this link!
We are a proud member of the Alberta Podcast Network powered by ATB
And talk to us in the comments!
Twitter and Instagram @ps2jshow
A Facebook Page exists as well.

Free games

  • Epic Games

    • Observer

      • 2017
      • First-person psychological horror game following a detective that can hack people’s minds as a form of interrogation
    • Alan Wake’s American Nightmare

      • 2012
      • A follow-up / spinoff from the original Alan Wake game, it’s third person psychological action thriller framed in Twilight Zone-esque storytelling that has you attempting to chase down the “herald of darkness”, Mr Scratch

Another credit card hack was in the news today, affecting more than 26 million cards, but with a bit of a twist

  • This time the hack was against an online bazaar selling already stolen data, passing the data on to banks and financial institutions so they can invalidate and replace the cards
  • Based on numbers gathered by security companies and law enforcement, this could be as much as a third of the black market supply of stolen cards, and according to the associated price list represent about $414M in lost sales for the hacked market

In an attempt to please everyone, Blizzard has softened their punishment of the pro Hearthstone player Blitzchung that voiced support for Hong Kong’s pro-democracy protests while also doubling down on how they think it was inappropriate

  • Following the backlash we reported on last week they’ve announced that they’ll reinstate his winnings and lessen his ban by six months, but they still want to show there are consequences for “disrupting or derailing the broadcast”
    • Apparently they’re doing all this under a rule saying that players shouldn’t do things that “offend a portion or group of the public, or otherwise damage Blizzard’s image”
  • Apparently Blizzard also posted on social media, in Chinese only, that it would “resolutely safeguard China’s national dignity”, and their official statement in China had them expressing their “intense, righteous indignation and condemnation” of the incident, which isn’t a great look for them
  • And, of course, all these announcements were made late on a Friday which is usually seen as an attempt to minimize visibility and miss the news cycle as much as possible
    • That hasn’t stopped many from amping up their boycott of Blizzard products, and with Overwatch now hitting the Switch as well as their annual convention Blizzcon coming first thing next month the timing is right to send them a message
    • They were even supposed to host an event at the Nintendo store in New York this week, with some of the voice actors showing up for a meet and greet to promote the release, but according to the store’s Twitter account Blizzard cancelled it two days prior

US presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren is capitalizing on Facebook’s new ad policies we talked about in ep 274, and I kind of love it

  • In case you missed it, Facebook recently removed the requirement that ads on their platform not present false or misleading info. Now ads are only pulled if proven false by a third party fact checker, but politicians are immune to even that piece due to the belief that any statement from a political figure is important to the public interest
    • This is similar justification to why Twitter says they haven’t banned Trump from their site for repeatedly breaking multiple rules, though it got flimsy when they started using him in their ads
  • So Warren has released Facebook ads saying that Zuckerberg and Facebook has endorsed Trump. If you read past the first two lines it quickly acknowledges that isn’t true, but goes on to call Facebook out for giving people like Trump free reign to lie on the platform while raking in the cash
  • Unfortunately at this point Facebook is so entrenched, and so many people use it for their primary interactions online, that allowing people to publish lies and falsehoods like that does real damage to everyone. For someone so concerned about fake news, Trump sure has brought out the worst of it

Apple’s released yet more updates this week, now for both iOS and macOS

  • iOS 13.1.3 fixes some important things like an issue that could stop your phone from ringing when called. You know, that minor thing that no one really uses phones for anyway
    • It also fixes some issues with daylight savings time and the Health app, restoring from iCloud backups, Apple Watch connections, and Game Centre performance
  • The macOS Catalina updates are even more important, though mainly for people that haven’t installed it yet
    • They’ve fixed issues for Macs with low disk space, an issue that prevented users from accepting iCloud terms and conditions, and another problem that stopped setup from completing at all in some cases

A major flaw in Samsung’s Galaxy S10 and Note10 has been discovered that means pretty much any fingerprint can unlock it with the help of a cheap screen protector

  • The phone’s inscreen fingerprint sensor uses ultrasound to detect your fingerprint ridges, making each fingerprint unique
  • Unfortunately some screen protectors (namely every single one that wasn’t developed specially for these devices with specific adhesives or cutouts) don’t play nice with that technology since they may leave a tiny air gap that interferes with scanning, meaning that no matter who puts their finger on the sensor it lets them in
    • To be clear, this isn’t about you teaching it your fingerprint while the protector is on and then it opens for anyone. A Galaxy S10 that is fingerprint locked properly can be unlocked by anyone if they have a $3 piece of plastic to put on the screen
      • So it looks like if there isn’t a clear reading it just unlocks anyway, which is probably the opposite that you want to happen
  • Samsung says they’re aware of the malfunctioning fingerprint recognition and will soon issue a software patch, though I’m not sure what the patch will do. Maybe disable the sensor when a screen protector is applied? Either way, it looks like another case of Samsung releasing tech before its time

Overwatch Halloween

Junkestein’s Revenge is back!

And a new addition to this year is weekly unlocks.
You earn rewards by winning games in Quick Play, Competitive Play, or Arcade.

This week, Oct 15th to 21st, which you may have missed a bit, but can still catch up, is all Junkrat.

  • 3 Wins is an Inferno Junkrat Player Icon
  • 6 Wins is an Inferno Junkrat Spray
  • and 9 gets you the Inferno Junkrat skin!

Week 2, Oct 22nd to 28th is Baptiste.

  • 3 Wins is an Vampire Baptiste Player Icon
  • 6 Wins is an Vampire Baptiste Spray
  • and 9 gets you the Vampire Baptiste skin!

Week 3, Oct 29nd to Nov 4th is Sombra.

  • 3 Wins is an Demon Hunter Sombra Player Icon
  • 6 Wins is an Demon Hunter Sombra Spray
  • and 9 gets you the Demon Hunter Sombra skin!
    • Which is nice, since it was a reward for buying a BlizzCon ticket last year.

And we have some awesome skins this year.

And this is the list of them from good skin, to best, in my opinion.

  • Inferno Junkrat (Epic)
    • He looks like he has magma inside him. Cool idea, but you cannot hide at all in game
  • Gorgon Lucio (Epic)
    • Green armour with black necrotic skin, glowing green eyes and Snakes for dreads.
  • Vampire Baptiste (Epic)
    • Mostly a recolour. He has a Blade-esque haircut, with glowing trim
  • Will-O’-Wisp Tracer (Legendary)
    • Pumpkin with teeth with an open maw and eerie teal glow. I like her striped pants and excess of leg belts.
  • Scorpion Widowmaker (Legendary)
    • She has a ninja like mask, and armour is segmented and coloured like a desert scorpion.
    • Also, her venom Mines have a scorpion tail
  • Warlock Ashe (Legendary)
    • She had bad ass horns, and her outfit is styled in the same aesthetic as Witch Mercy
    • Bob is a stone Golem, with glowing under-detail
  • Pharaoh Anna (Legendary)
    • She is a mummy with ancient egyptian armour and cloth wrappings
    • Her coat has a glowing green interior and on the outside some hieroglyphs
  • Demon Orisa (Legendary)
    • I am a fan of skulls, and she has a really agressive skull head with two sets of horns
    • Her armour is bone, with raw muscle connecting and as the under detail
    • Her chest is an exposed rib-cage with a flame inside it
    • She has 4 goat legs with the shaggy goat pelt
    • And the center of the energy core on her weapon is a living goat eye

Overwatch on the Switch- if you’ve been looking at buying it, think again

  • Not only are there massive performance issues, with many instances of character models not loading in for unreasonable amounts of time and just being denoted by glowing balls of light and being stuck at 30FPS (half the frame rate of all the other platforms), but they decided to pull one of the dumbest moves a game release can- the physical box you buy in stores doesn’t have a cartridge in it. Just a download code.

Overwatch is too much to Switch

  • Core teamwork component is tough to come by
  • The Switch has trouble with its wireless connection
    • Except for the few with the LAN adapter in Docked mode
  • Accuracy is lacking
    • JoyCon drift is a rampant issue
    • As well as a 30 frames per second, reports are there is input lag
  • The lower quality graphics makes the TV experience fuzzy
    • Handheld looks good though
  • Also bad timing to be released!
    • For political climate
    • and 3 Years after the hype

Tidbits

  • The Last of Us Part II now has a release date, and is officially coming February 21st
  • Ready for a nostalgia-blast? The Internet Archive has been updated with more than 2500 DOS games featuring classics like The Secret of Monkey Island and The Incredible Machine 2
  • Fallout 76 is due to become a more true-to-form Fallout title in early 2020, with the introduction of the Wastelanders free update
    • The update will bring proper NPCs and dialogue trees into the game, rather than the current mix of audio tapes and linear conversations with robots
    • They’re also bringing private servers and some changes to the Atomic Shop to balance out the pay-to-win strategy that’s currently in place
  • Google’s announced the latest generation of their Pixel Buds wireless headphones, and it looks like they’ve learned a lot of good lessons from Apple’s AirPods
    • The battery life is about the same, and they have a similar charging case (though I kind of like its design more than Apple’s), but they sit tightly in your ear like most earbuds nowadays (though they have a vent on the bottom to let in external noise)
    • They’ve also got voice-activated Google Assistant integration and some fanciness called “adaptive sound”, which apparently adjusts the volume of what you’re playing depending on surrounding noise
    • I really like what I’ve seen of them, and hopefully the next-gen AirPods keep up

Alan recommends Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency on Netflix

  • Inspired by the books by Douglas Adams, the series does a great job of building a world from how the books felt rather than being locked in to what they did
  • Interconnectedness of all things
  • Cancelled after two seasons
  • It’s odd and ambitious, but carried forward with some great acting and fun, absurdist plot

 

Literally Misleading

Last Week:

Game – Sadistic architect values efficiency over safety. (PolyBridge)

This Week:

Movie – Artist tries his best against the wishes of his grandfather and clingy aunts

 

For more content, Patreon supports get access to upcoming ideas and more!

A huge thanks to Dalton, for supporting us for so long.

And thanks to all our ‘fanily’ that support us.
And if you want to support us too, its as easy as clicking this link!
We are a proud member of the Alberta Podcast Network powered by ATB
And talk to us in the comments!
Twitter and Instagram @ps2jshow
A Facebook Page exists as well.

PS2J 275 News – Bushel of Apple

Security alert

  • Google’s October 2019 Android security fix is here for the majority of Android devices and has a fix for a major vulnerability present on a bunch of different phones
    • The bug allows a hacker to remotely root and take complete control of the device if an infected app has been installed or if a Chrome-based loophole is used
    • If you have an Android device you should go into your Settings app and search for System Update to download and install it as soon as possible

Free games

  • Epic Games

    • Surviving Mars

      • 2018
      • City building simulation from the developers of the Tropico series modeled after real Martian data that has you building a colony on Mars by manufacturing resources and constructing buildings to ensure the survival of the colonists

Apple’s under fire this week for their wishy-washy capitulation to the Chinese government during the Hong Kong protests

  • Most of the controversy, involving Apple at least, revolves around an app called HKMap.Live that allows users to flag locations on a map. It’s being used to warn the public about things like concentrations of riot police, tear gas, and zones that are currently being locked down
    • According to people within Hong Kong, tear gas is routinely being deployed without warning in densely populated neighbourhoods just because the cops were being verbally taunted, and the police are firing bean bag rounds without warning at people that, for example, walk out of a subway station in a locked-down area
  • It originally hit headlines because Apple rejected the app, saying that it facilitates, enables, and encourages the evasion of law enforcement. Which is no more true that being able to flag speedtraps on Waze- it’s not like the app has GPS on every cop in the region
  • The app eventually did get approved and released, so people chalked it up to an overzealous App Store reviewer and left it at that
  • Then Apple came under fire in the Chinese state media, being accused of protecting “rioters” and enabling illegal behaviour
    • Interestingly enough, the same story made no mention of the fact that it’s also a web app and available on the Google Play store- it completely targeted Apple
  • In response to those stories, and presumably pressure from Chinese officials, Apple then removed the app from the App Store citing claims that it was used to target and ambush police, threaten public safety, and that criminals have used it to victimize residents in areas where they know there is no law enforcement.
    • They went on to say that the app violates Apple guidlines and local laws, but despite many inquiries neither Apple nor Chinese officials seem to be able to point those laws out
      • The Secretary for Transport and Housing laid the decision solely at Apple’s feet, saying to ask them for the reasons why
      • Tim Cook released a company-wide email talking about the situation, but still didn’t or couldn’t back up the claims that it was used to target individual officers for violence, or to victimize people or property where no police were present. And no one at any point has said what local laws in Hong Kong this app is violating.
  • At this point the app remains available Google Play and its webapp, and anyone that already installed it on their iDevices can still use it, but it’s not available for purchase or download any longer
  • For all Tim Cook’s talk of free speech and human rights, this really seems like a failure to stand up for what’s right. They’re just 100% buckling under the pressure of the Chinese government

In related news, Blizzard is in a similar situation but they’ve 100% embraced their Chinese overlords

  • After a professional Hearthstone player declared his support for the Hong Kong protest movement Blizzard handed him a one year suspension and rescinded his $10,000 tournament prize
  • This has even caught the attention of American senators, with Marco Rubio and Ron Wyden both calling Blizzard out for the censorship
  • This is a really bad look for a company with supposed values like “Think globally” and “Every voice matters”
  • Many are boycotting Blizzard games in protest, to the point where they have basically crashed the account deletion part of the Blizzard site
    • Early reports were suspicious of them trying to prevent a mass exodus by changing the requirements (ie needing photo ID to close the account, instead of the usual authenticator, sms, email, or secret question), but further testing has shown that they’ve either backpedaled on that strategy or, more likely, gotten a little-used part of their website some more resources
      • Interesting part there is that you don’t need to send in your id to make the account in the first place, so what exactly would they be verifying?

The latest iOS may be a bit of a mess, but it at least has a couple of new privacy features to go with it

  • If you’ve already updated you might have noticed a new security prompt when using some apps, asking if you want to allow them to use Bluetooth
  • It mentions that it’s used to connect to Bluetooth accessories, which makes sense, but also says apps can use it to know when you’re nearby
  • Apparently some retailers were using bluetooth beacons to track customers that had their app open, since they previously by default had the ability to see nearby Bluetooth devices without a prompt
  • They could also learn your location if you were near a public WiFi hotspot, but Apple now has things locked down so that’s no longer possible
  • The worst part about that tracking was that it wasn’t limited to apps you might expect like Best Buy, but also things like games, flashlights, or other one-off apps from sketchy developers
  • So now with the additional prompts users can basically deny everything that doesn’t make sense, and then if they notice that actual functions within the app are affected they can look at allowing the needed access
  • The next challenge will be apps from companies like X-Mode, which get permission to collect location data by plugging in to apps that actually do need your location
    • For instance they have an earthquake alert app, which would make sense to let track your location, but buried in the ToS is language that says they can use that location data for other means
  • End of the day it looks like we still need to be conscious of what apps we’re installing, but at least now iOS lets us know if that wallpaper app you downloaded is secretly trying to get your location data

macOS Catalina is here, and because I haven’t learned my lesson from installing iOS 13 on day 1 yet we’ve got the full scoop

  • One thing to note is that they’ve drawn a line in the sand and you can no longer run 32 bit apps. That should be limited to older software, but even some newer 64 bit apps may rely on 32 bit plugins
    • There’s a free download available called Go64 that will flag the applications on your system that won’t work after the update, as well as let you know when they were last used, and it was a handy way to make sure I was ready
      • I actually found you need to delete/reinstall Steam to get the new 64 bit version, even though the Blizzard launcher updated itself smoothly
  • iTunes has been split into three separate apps- Music, TV, and Podcasts. Gone are the days of a single bloated hub for all your media, but it’s shifted iPhone and iPad syncing to an unlikely new home- Finder
    • Once your device is plugged in you should see your phone near the bottom of the navigation bar on the left side of Finder. You can click on that to see the familiar sync and update options that used to live in iTunes
    • You’ll also see an option for “Show this device when on Wi-Fi”, which you’ll need to manually enable to get WiFi sync back the way it’s been for the last few years
    • Apple notes in their support documentation that things set to sync with the cloud, like Apple Music, may not be available through the new Finder sync, possibly in a move to push more people into the iCloud and away from local syncing and backups
    • Also, despite its name, TV is the new home for all the video content including movies
  • They’ve also released Mac Catalyst, allowing developers to port iPad apps directly to macOS with the addition of multiple windows, drag/drop, and keyboard shortcuts
  • Photos has been updated with more sorting/filtering options and some automatic curation similar to Facebook, highlighting important moments like birthdays and vacations
  • Notes and Reminders have also been updated with the new iOS 13 features and finally sync properly across all your updated devices! And there was much rejoicing
  • Apple Arcade is now up on Mac in addition to iOS and AppleTV, meaning you can really take your game subscription anywhere
    • I’ve been itching to give it all a try, so expect my impressions in the coming weeks
  • Sidecar is brand new in Catalina, letting you use your iPad as a second monitor for your Mac. You can even use your Apple Pencil to control things, giving you a solid tablet interface for your computer for things like Adobe Creative Cloud, Maya, ZBrush, and more
  • Screen Time has come to the Mac, giving you insight into how you’re spending your time and allowing you to monitor usage, schedule downtime, and set limits for apps and websites across all your devices for yourself or your family
    • You’ll even be able to set communication limits as of this spring, if you want to limit who your kids can contact at certain times of the day (or night) without blocking their ability to contact you if they need to
  • On top of all that we also got a bunch of new security features, like better encryption, activation lock for lost or stolen hardware so only you can erase and reactivate your Mac, better controls to prevent accidental overwrites of system files (I’m looking at you, Chrome update we discussed in 273), and permissions prompts before apps get access to your files, keyboard activity, or images of your screen.
    • They’ve also set up the new Find My app with a couple tweaks to help locate a missing Mac, even if it’s offline and sleeping, by sending out Bluetooth signals that can be detected by Apple devices in use nearby so they can then relay the location so you can find it. And it’s all encrypted end-to-end so not even Apple knows the identity of the reporting device or the location of your hardware
  • Plus some great new accessibility features that let users control their Mac, iPhone, or iPad entirely with their voice, and tools to let users with low vision adjust magnification or visiblity on the fly
  • All that is available now, free, for most Mac hardware from 2012 or later.

The internet has found a way to get official Google apps back on Huawei phones, and you definitely shouldn’t do it

  • Recently the Trump administration banned US companies from doing business with Huawei as part of the trade war between the US and China
  • This has made their latest phone, the Mate 30 Pro, the first to launch without Google apps even though it uses the Android operating system
    • So it can’t access apps like the Play Store, YouTube, Chrome, Google Assistant, and more
  • Generally this wouldn’t be a big deal- gray market distribution of Google apps is something the modding community has been doing for years, but the Mate 30 has locked down the loopholes that are normally used for devices like the Kindle Fire
  • Instead the new method is to install them through a website called Lzplay.net, which has been promoted by many major Android news sites and is very easily searchable
    • It’s easy to see why it’s so popular too- you just go to the website, install the app, hit ‘next’ a few times, and it installs a batch of Google system apps in the blink of an eye
  • Unfortunately the method it uses to do so is suspect at best and a security nightmare at worst
    • The website plugs in the Android’s Mobile Device Management framework, usually meant to give your IT department full control over a company-issued device. The goal there being that they have as much control remotely as you do physically- they can install/uninstall apps, change passwords, wipe lost or stolen devices, and all kinds of other things
    • These are permissions that should only ever be given to someone you 100% trust- I don’t even like giving that access to my employer, even though they pay my phone bill
  • The big problem here is that no one knows who or what owns Lzplay.net, so you’re essentially giving full ownership of your phone and its data to a random website registered somewhere in mainland China, which historically doesn’t sound like a great idea
  • On top of that, a lot of the write-ups and video guides out there really gloss over how it works and just how many permissions you’re granting. Almost none of them mention the fact that you’re left with this massive backdoor to your phone, and removing the app as your device administrator requires digging through a lot of settings
  • Lzplay might not do anything malicious today, but tomorrow it could fill your phone with bitcoin miners, install ransomware, or brick your phone
  • If you want more details on just how suspicious the site’s background is, like how it uses secret Huawei code and launched three days before the phone even came out, check out ArsTechnica’s article on the whole debacle

Watch out, there’s a new sneaky phone scam making the rounds that looks like one of the most credible phishing attempts out there at the moment

  • Twitter user Pieter Gunst reported that he got a call from someone claiming to be his bank, asking if he’d used his card in another city. When he said no, the caller apparently blocked the transaction and asked for his customer number to verify his identity (red flag number 1)
  • Not realizing things weren’t on the up and up quite yet Gunst gave it, and the person on the phone then said they were sending a verification PIN for him to read back (red flag number 2). He later realized the scammer was resetting his online banking password through the Forgotten Password link, and used that verification number to do so
  • The scammer then read off a few other charges to sound legitimate, now that they’d gotten access to his online statements, and after he’d confirmed he made them the scammer said they then wanted “to block the PIN on your account, so you get a fraud alert when it is used again.”, and asked for his current PIN (at this point dozens of red flags were raining from the heavens and luckily Gunst realized something was up)
  • He hung up on the scammer and called his bank’s actual fraud department, as well as his local police department to file a report on the number that called
  • Based on my experience, as well as common sense if you think about it, if the bank is calling you then they know who you are. When my card was compromised the fraud department called me, verified which charges were legit, and then cancelled/reissued my credit card without ever asking me for passwords, or my PIN
    • If you ever do get a call and they start asking weird questions or you’re at all worried about its legitimacy, let them know you want to call them back and then get the number either from the back of your card or your bank’s website (don’t use any phone numbers they give you). That way you can be sure who you’re talking to, even if you have to jump through a couple extra hoops to do so

The LEGO Group is putting old bricks to use

  • The LEGO Group announced the start of LEGO Replay.
    • This pilot program will accept old bricks, wash them and donate them to children’s non-profit charities
    • its a collaboration with Give Back Box, Teach for America, and Boys & Girls Clubs of Boston
  • They made it easy to donate as well
    • collect any bricks, sets, lego figures you’re not using in a cardboard box
    • Vist Lego.com/replay to get a free UPS shipping label
    • Ship it, Lego takes care of the rest!
  • Your package is sent to the Give Back Box facility
    • They will sort the Lego
    • Inspect for damage
    • And clean it thouroughly
  • Tim Brooks, Vice President of Environmental Responsibility at the Lego Group had this to say:
    • We know people don’t throw away their LEGO bricks
    • The vast majority hand them down to their children or grandchildren.
    • But others have asked us for a safe way to dispose of or to donate their bricks
    • With replay, they have an easy option that’s both sustainable and socially impactful
  • The founder of Give Back Box, Monika Wiela, also said:
    • I am excited to join the LEGO group in this pilot program
    • Growing up in Poland, I didn’t have many toys as a child, so this collaboration is rather personal for me
    • What’s better than giving a child the gift of play?
    • For us, the number of donations we receive is critical to a successful campaign, so we’ve made it as easy as possible for folks at home to send in their idle bricks
  • Among the bricks sent out
    • There is a portion going to Boys & Girls Clubs of Boston for thier after-school programs
    • First shipments in November 2019.
    • Once the pilot is complete in Spring 2020, the LEGO group will evaluate a possible expansion of the program
  • LEGO replay is one of the many sustainable and philanthropic efforts the LEGO group has announced in the past year
    • Recent efforts include bricks made from plants, braille bricks and audio & braille instructions.

Josh wants to get into Streaming

Trying XSplit Gamecaster
They have a camera app that can capture just you with, I dunno, machine learning?
I want to stream Overwatch, HotS, and whatever I play. Like Sims 4, Rollercoaster Tycoon, any whatever free game I get from Alan’s free games list.

Tidbits

  • Bose has discontinued their noise-masking Sleepbuds earbuds due to battery and charging issues, and are offering full refunds as long as you put in your request by the end of the year
    • They also note that if you want to keep using them their newer Sleepbuds are less likely to see problems, and they’ll continue replacing them while supplies last
  • PS4 remote play has gotten amped up on iOS with the ability to connect your Dualshock 4 controller to iPhones and iPads
    • Previously we were stuck with on-screen controls, which aren’t great for the sheer number of buttons involved, but with an actual controller it makes remote place a lot more useful
  • Spotify has been updated on iPhone to include Siri support, and it works almost exactly how I’d hoped- you just ask it to play a song, artist, or playlist followed by “with Spotify” or “on Spotify” and it picks up the command easily
    • One annoying nitpick though, it doesn’t play nice with Siri on my watch so changing music while driving continues to be slightly more awkward than it needs to be
  • Steam has announced their Remote Play Together feature coming near the end of this month, giving a couch-coop experience online
    • The idea is that the host computer runs as if it was a local multiplayer session, split screen and all, then streams the video to your remote friends while they stream their controller inputs back

Recommend The Adventures of Ichabod and Mister Toad from 1949

  • Especially the second half, where it does a full Disney take on The Legend of Sleepy Hollow narrated and voiced by Bing Crosby
  • It’s charming and just a real treat in the fall season to hear more of Bing not limited to Christmas carols, and it’s a solid delivery of the story of Ichabod Crane and the Headless Horseman
  • Plus as a bonus you also get The Wind in the Willows, narrated by Basil Rathbone, which is another excellent example of Disney animation at its finest
  • Each segment is about half an hour, which leaves neither of them feeling padded or cut short. Just the right amount of two great Disney films

Literally Misleading

Last Week:

Movie – A typical cowboy saves the princess tale.  (Shanghai Noon, Movie)

This Week:

Game – Sadistic architect values efficiency over safety.

 

For more content, Patreon supports get access to upcoming ideas and more!

A huge thanks to Dalton, for supporting us for so long.

And thanks to all our ‘fanily’ that support us.
And if you want to support us too, its as easy as clicking this link!
We are a proud member of the Alberta Podcast Network powered by ATB
And talk to us in the comments!
Twitter and Instagram @ps2jshow
A Facebook Page exists as well.

Free games

  • Epic

    • Limbo

      • 2010
      • Black and white stylized puzzle platformer with a wonderful dark, eerie atmosphere, praised as an excellent example of video games as an art form
 

Update to last week’s story about the Zoom video conferencing vulnerability

  • It looks like many of Zoom’s partner apps, like RingCentral and Zhumu, have similar problems that allow attackers easy access to laptop cameras and microphones, so this week Apple released another silent security patch to block the vulnerability
  • Also, I’ve done a bit of research and if you’re concerned about Apple’s ability to run these kind of security updates you can block them in System Preferences > Software Update > Advanced by unchecking “Install system data files and security updates”
  • Right now I’m happy that Apple notifies the press when they release these patches, but in a perfect world they’d be visibly included in your updates list
 

Lifehacker is urging users to update their Logitech wireless dongles immediately

  • A few years ago, hackers discovered they could take control of computers by exploiting a vulnerability in Logitech wireless dongles- the piece you plug in to your computer to connect to wireless mice and keyboards
  • Patches were released to fix this all the way back in 2016, but there was no recall and even new devices rolling out of the factory today may be at risk
  • If you use any wireless Logitech devices, make sure you visit the Logitech support website and download/run the latest firmware update files as soon as possible to fix the loopholes
    • You’ll need to re-sync your devices to the dongle afterward, but the added (or, you know, extant) security is well worth the time
 

Facebook is apparently being fined $5B by the FTC for their role in the Cambridge Analytica privacy scandal

  • The original scandal is related to the 2016 US election, where Cambridge Analytica collected info on tens of millions of Facebook users without consent to create targeted political ads
  • The data collection came from an app that claimed to be a survey for academic use, but in reality it gathered information on not just the people taking the survey but also their friends
  • The problem here is that the fine is laughable when it comes to Facebook’s revenue
    • It’s the largest fine in FTC history, but they had $15B in revenue in the last 3 months, and $22B in profit last year
    • Facebook’s stock price actually went up after this fine was announced
  • End of the day it’s a start, but slap a zero on the end of it and then we’ll talk
 

In somewhat related news, Facebook is vigorously over-defending itself against a lawsuit brought by the attorney general of the District of Colombia

  • The lawsuit is related to the same Cambridge Analytica scandal and says that is was a violation of DC consumer protection law
  • Facebook’s response to it denies “each and every allegation” in the lawsuit, including pieces that aren’t so much allegations as they are just basic statements of fact.
  • For example, paragraph 11 says “To begin using the Facebook website, a consumer first creates a Facebook account. The consumer can then add other Facebook consumers as “friends” and by accumulating Facebook friends, the consumer builds a social network on the Facebook website.”
    • Facebook’s response was that they deny the allegations in paragraph 11
  • They’ve also denied pieces that they’ve publicly admitted to in the past, leaving many people wondering just what’s going on with this defense strategy
 

Police are warning the public about a new scam targeting iPhone users

  • Scammers are using social media to recruit victims by promising payments in exchange for becoming a game tester
  • Users are asked to log in to a particular Apple ID on their iPhone, then the scammers will activate Lost Mode on the device, locking the victim’s phone and extorting payments before promising to unlock it afterward
  • The worst part is that you need the Apple ID’s password to remove it from your device, so if they changed it after locking your phone then you remain at their mercy
  • Anyone that’s been hit by this scam should get help from Apple at getsupport.apple.com
 

Space fact of the day, featuring the male ego, bought to you by Mary Robinette Kowal

  • Author of the Lady Astronaut books Alan, recommended back in 242
  • To facilitate going to the bathroom, NASA developed a sheath kind of like a condom that came in small, medium, and large.
  • Every man said they needed a large, even when they didn’t which led to some messy situations
  • So they re-branded the sheaths to Extra-large, Immense, and Unbelievable
 

Tidbits

  • A US law firm is looking at opening a class action lawsuit regarding the Nintendo Switch and Joy-Con controller drift
  • Marvel’s Spider-Man is officially now the best-selling superhero video game of all time, beating both Arkham Knight and Arkham City
    • It’s doubly impressive considering the Batman games were on multiple platforms, whereas Spider-Man was a PS4 exclusive
  • Nintendo’s announced an invisible upgrade to the Switch coming this August, offering up to 2.5 hours longer battery life
    • The gains are likely achieved using a similar processing upgrade that is included in the Switch Lite
  • There was a cool announcement made at the Comic-Con 20th anniversary Batman Beyond panel
    • They’re releasing a blu ray HD remaster of the full series, including the Return of the Joker movie, coming this October
  • Thor: Ragnarok director Taika Waititi has officially been signed for a fourth Thor movie
    • No details yet, but I’m excited
 

Alan recommends Spinderella

  • A solid board game for ages 6+ that I’ve only ever played with a group of 20 or 30-somethings
  • You try to get your three ants to the end of the board, but depending on dice rolls other players can move the hanging spiders around to try and grab your pieces and send them back to the start

 

Literally Misleading

Game – Small business owner deals with the sins of his father while his life is becoming a living hell!
 
If you have a Literally Misleading Description, message Josh directly on our Discord, or Twitter @fushigiyami

For more content, Patreon supports get access to upcoming ideas and more!

A huge thanks to Zane, for believing in us for so long.
And thanks to all our ‘fanily’ that support us.
And if you want to support us too, its as easy as clicking this link!
 
We are a proud member of the Alberta Podcast Network powered by ATB
 
And talk to us in the comments!
 
 
Twitter and Instagram @ps2jshow
 
A Facebook Page exists as well.

Free games

  • Microsoft

    • Inside

      • 2016
      • The spiritual successor to Limbo, Inside is another deceptively simple platformer where you control a small boy in a big, very dangerous world
    • Big Crown: Showdown

      • 2019
      • Four player action/fighting/party game with one-button combat that has you dodging obstacles and slamming into your friends on an auto-scrolling level
    • Castlevania: Symphony of the Night

      • 2007 re-release of the 1997 title
      • Platform adventure action that introduced non-linear levels and RPG elements to the series, following four years after the events of Rondo of Blood, and featuring Dracula’s son Alucard exploring his father’s castle
    • Meet the Robinsons

      • 2007
      • Video game tie-in to the Disney animated film, it has you helping Wilbur Robinson save the future by travelling to the past and putting things back in order.
  • Epic Games

    • Overcooked

      • 2016
      • A co-op party game where you and up to three friends work together in a kitchen to prepare meals, working around fires, shifting floors, and other obstacles
 

China is forcing tourists to install malware on their phones to enter the country

  • Foreigners crossing some borders into the Xinjiang region are having their phones seized by border guards and being forced to install a piece of Android malware that gives a ton of data to the authorities
    • Analysis of the app shows it gathering all of the phone’s calendar entries, phone contacts, call logs, and text messages, then uploading them to a server
  • The malware also scans the device for a specific set of files, including extremist Islamic content, academic books on Islam by leading researchers, PDFs related to the Dalai Lama and even music from a Japanese metal band Unholy Grave (who have a song called “Taiwan: Another China”)
  • Apple users aren’t safe either- it also appears that there are machines for searching iPhones at the border, since iOS doesn’t give the same access to apps that Android can, but that hasn’t been confirmed
  • This is yet another piece of oppression against populations in the region that are already subject to physical searches and CCTV facial recognition. Be careful out there
 

Samsung is being hit with a lawsuit from Australian consumer watchdogs

  • The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission is suing them for ads showing a swimmer using the device while sitting at the bottom of a pool or while in the ocean
  • According to the lawsuit, the ACCC says they did not know or test the effects of pool or saltwater exposure
    • One thing to note here, if you’ve ever tried to use a wet touchscreen phone you’ll know that it’s inaccurate at best and impossible at worst with that conductivity all over the place
  • Either way, Samsung’s Galaxy phones are marketed as being resistant to water 1.5 meters deep for 30 minutes, but the ACCC contends that does not cover all types of water so they might have a case
 

Researchers have shown a proof-of-concept attack that involves using a drone to project fake street signs on the side of a building

  • In a video posted online they successfully tricked a Mobileye driver assist system into thinking the speed limit jumped from the actual 30km/h to 90
  • Mobileye says they don’t believe this counts as spoofing because a human would not be tricked, but once we get into self-driving cars any time a computer accepts illegitimate input that’s going to be a problem
    • Even if the system relies on other sources like GPS to verify the speed limit, this is one more safeguard removed
  • I could almost see this happening in the next Mission Impossible, where an AI driven vehicle is redirected by fake signs and a spoofed GPS signal projected from a drone tailing it
 

The Google exec in charge of the new Stadia game streaming service says he thinks data caps won’t be a problem, proving that humans can function normally with their head lodged firmly in the sand

  • When pressed he said that he expects data caps would be raised because “ISPs are smart [and] they understand that they’re in the business of keeping customers happy and keeping customers with them for a long time,”
  • With the service taking up to 16GB per hour, using up 1TB within 65 hours of gameplay, the rules might be a little different than he’s expecting even before looking at internet providers’ history of nickel and diming consumers into the ground
 

Good news for Shenmue III backers disappointed at the move from Steam to Epic- you can now get a refund

  • During the 2015 Kickstarter campaign fans were told that it would be coming to Steam (and also that it would arrive December 2017, but that’s Kickstarter for you)
  • Then during this year’s E3 the developer and publisher revealed that the PC version would be exclusive to Epic Games
  • At first all the refund requests were being denied, leading to many angry comments on the campaign’s page, but now apparently they’ve reversed that decision thanks to Epic covering the refunds so that the development funding isn’t affected
  • All in all it’s a classy move from Epic, but highlights the problems with these kind of storefronts locking consumers in. These are the new console wars
 

Tidbits

  • After the revelations about Amazon employees storing and reviewing recordings of Alexa conversations we covered in 246 and 249, it’s come out that Amazon keeps recordings of Alexa commands “until the customer chooses to delete them”
    • You can delete them under the Alexa Privacy section of your Amazon account, but if they’re relying on users to tell them when to delete them then they should really tell us
  • A random new quality of life feature called FaceTime Attention Correction is hitting this fall in iOS 13, which makes on the fly adjustments while using the video chat to make it look like you’re making eye contact
  • Exciting news- After more than a couple false starts trying to hit the big screen, Gaiman’s Sandman graphic novel is officially being adapted into a streaming series on Netflix
  • Everyone needs to go check out the ridiculously unusable website userinyerface.com
    • Made by a design firm, it puts you through a gauntlet that breaks every web form common practice in the worst ways
 

Alan recommends

Shopping at your local farmer’s market

 

Literally Misleading

Game – With little information, and being a little special, the protagonist chases after their son’s captors, after warming up to the world.
 
If you have a Literally Misleading Description, message Josh directly on our Discord, or Twitter @fushigiyami
 

For more content, Patreon supports get access to upcoming ideas and more!

A huge thanks to Karen, for believing in us for so long.
And thanks to all our ‘fanily’ that support us.
And if you want to support us too, its as easy as clicking this link!
 
We are a proud member of the Alberta Podcast Network powered by ATB
 
And talk to us in the comments!
 
 
Twitter and Instagram @ps2jshow
 
A Facebook Page exists as well.